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ADVOCACY MINDANOW

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Let's oppose divorce and investigate annulments!

DIVORCE - I hope my friend Davaoeña Cong. Luz Ilagan whom I look up to with great respect and admiration for her other advocacies, seriously reconsiders her support to the divorce bill. I've practiced law and personally handled family relations cases during my younger days (ages ago while her husband, "pro bono" Lawyer Larry Ilagan was still around). I saw up close how children were the ultimate victims of broken families. Allowing divorce rewards the culprit as it allows the guilty spouse to re-marry, usually after finding a new-found lover outside the conjugal home. It gives premium or even an incentive to violation of marriage vows.

Let's not provide easy relief to spouses so they'll treat their marriage as inviolable - however difficult it may be to some. Yes, we have our own human frailties and we commit mistakes. But keeping the marriage bond sacrosanct is paramount. It's a sacred social institution.
"Let no man put it asunder!"

QUICK ANNULMENT - I can't help but wonder how come nowadays, (even without a divorce law) some separating spouses, who can afford, are able to set aside their marriage so quick and easy by getting an annulment. My old fashioned legal mind taught me that an annulment is obtainable only if there is evidence to show that the marraige is null and void "ab initio" or from the very beginning or some fatal flaw is present at the inception of the marriage itself. An example of this is "vitiated consent" where your voluntary and free consent was not given when you said "I DO" (like a gun pointed at you, as in the famous "shotgun marriage".) Or if the officiating minister was an impostor, or for one reason or another, the marriage was fake.

The grounds are difficult. But I wonder why they come so easy and fast. We must look into this.

LEGAL SEPARATION - Here's another interesting point. A subsequent defect, which arises or becomes evident during married life (example, incompatibility or even attempt on a spouse's life by the other) is not good and valid basis to annul even though how serious or life threatening the grounds are. Yes, it can be invoked for "legal separation", meaning separation from "bed and board" but with no right to remarry. In legal separation, the marriage bond remains undissolved and intact, unlike in annulment which not only cuts the union but declares it nonexistent a the inception, hence allowing a re-marriage. This distinguishes legal separation (or divorce for that matter) from the more serious annulment.

In divorce, the marriage is considered valid and subsisting until a divorce decree is issued legally cutting off the marriage bonds. In annulment, there was no valid marriage at all to speak of.

RATIFICATION - Mark this: even with some valid grounds present, there is such a thing as "conjugal ratification" that erases all those "legal justifications" to seek annulment as when the spouses voluntarily live together for sometime as man and wife. I always squirm whenever I hear cases of spouses conveniently asking for annulment after cohabiting, enjoying as husband and wife while it lasted, even having children in between and then after finding a new lover, suddenly coming to court and belatedly claim that they suddenly remember that his or her consent was not freely given during their wedding day. How conveniently forgetful! Throw in some P200 thousand pesos or so, then one gets an annulment decree from some enterprising judges in a jiffy by simply claiming that their marriage has become irretrievably broken!

HAVE CASH AND RE-MARRY - If you want to find out where those "instant", over the counter annulment decrees are manufactured, simply check with NSO (national statistics office) where these annulment decrees are usually coming from. You'll see the "favorite" or "suki" judges who are notorious for this. They are all reported at the NSO for legal effect. Those jugdes should be put behind bars ahead of those desperate spouses. (There's one in Cotabato, if you want proof.)
Today's favorite slogan by desperate spouses: "have cash and re-marry!" No need for that divorce law after all, Congresswowan Luz.

NO COLLUSION - By the way, the state even has a responsibility in preventing "collusion" between the parties. So, when a petition is filed in court and the other spouse does not oppose, the government through the Solicitor General's office, or through its deputized local representatives, will still have to investigate whether a quiet conspiracy of sorts between the husband and wife who both want to quickly throw each other out of the conjugal window, are in fact short-circuiting or violating the process. See how the estate itself has a stake in this? But I doubt though whether this is done in earnest in real case situations!

RELIEF FROM MISERY - I have no problem with legal separation which is already in the statute books because it gives relief especially for the victim spouse who needs to be rescued from a life of misery.  Allowing the spouses, especially the victim some lifeline to be relieved of marital misery is perfectly alright. It can be good to the children too. But allowing a re-marriage as in divorce or annulment usually benefits more the erring spouse and therefore rewards the culprit.  Then it further complicates the children's lives who have to live with new parents and contend with new brothers and sisters on both sides of the new families, and so on and so forth! Property rights are obscured. The  prospects of complications are limitless.

TRIAL AND ERROR - But the more serious consideration is while divorce or annulment indeed gives a second chance to those who committed some mistakes in judgment at the first instance, the subliminal message is: let's just try this one first and if it won't work, then let's try and try again. Marriages will then become trial and error games of life. In their wake are grave social repercussions.

And we give low regard to what is meant to be a sacred relationship between man and woman.

By: Jess Dureza




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